Bentiu — Over 10 people were killed and 15 injured in South Sudan's Unity state on Friday when about 300 young men, suspected to have crossed the border from neigbouring Lakes state attacked Payinjiar county, an official said.
Simon Chuol Biel, the Payinjiar commissioner told Sudan Tribune via a satellite phone that more than 1,000 people have been displaced from Kanynhial, Guor and Mayom payams [districts].
Those who carried out the attack, Biel claimed, came from Rumbek North county in Lakes state, adding that more than 900 cows were looted during the attack.
Many people are still missing or remain unaccounted for as some are feared dead or may have been kidnapped by the raiding force, he said.
Simon Gatluak Pech, a legislator who represents Payinjiar, also told Sudan Tribune the armed men came from neighbouring Lakes state.
He put the death toll, earlier on the day of the attack, at 10, adding that 15 people had been critically injured.
"The attackers were armed with firearms, including eight PKM machine guns," Pech said, alleging they wore uniforms similar to those used by South Sudan's army (SPLA).
Speaking in Juba, however, the SPLA spokesperson Philip Aguer, said the army had no knowledge of the attack, adding that the military is mandate to protect the country and its civilian protection against external aggression.
"The SPLA cannot therefore move into an area inhabited by civil population for which it is mandated to protect and attack", he said.
Aguer said that the best way to separate armed communities was to allow "local authorities come up with a decision to address the conflict."
Last month the governors of Lake, Unity and Warrap states passed a law to impose death sentences to those convicted of cattle raiding.
Cattle raiding has been a constant cause of insecurity in the two years since South Sudan separated from Sudan.
The three bordering states have agreed to immediately implement the death penalty against those instigating or carrying out cattle raids along their borders.
Recently, the Inspector General of Police, Pieng Deng Kuol on his visit to the Unity state's capital Bentiu, called for an increase in the number of joint police operations along the volatile Lakes-Unity-Warrap border.
Poor infrastructure has hampered attempts of the police and army to patrol border areas.
Both Lakes and Unity states are currently ruled by caretaker governors after president Salva Kiir removed their elected governor this year. Taban Deng Gai of Unity state earlier this month while Chol Tong Mayay of Lakes state left office in January.
South Sudan's constitution allows the president to remove elected governors for reasons of national security. Both men were elected into office in 2010.